Elon Musk Briefly Tries To Trap Twitter Users On Sinking Ship
It's only been about a month and a half since Elon Musk officially took over Twitter, and so far he's barely been able to go a full day without making himself the main character of Twitter by saying or doing something horrible. But on Sunday he truly outdid himself. This is rather impressive given that he spent Thursday suspending the accounts of journalists who hurt his feelings.
In response to many of the site's top creators responding to how terrible he is making Twitter by announcing their plans to leave the site for alternatives like Mastodon, Post and Hive, or simply by sharing their other social media profiles so that people can follow them should they get kicked off for hurting Musk's feelings, Musk decided to undo all his very bad decisions and put everything back the way it was. Wait, no, he did not do that. He decided to bar people from linking to certain other social media profiles, or even sharing the usernames they have on those sites.
"We recognize that many of our users are active on other social media platforms. However, we will no longer allow free promotion of certain social media platforms on Twitter," read a tweet from the Twitter Support account, "Specifically, we will remove accounts created solely for the purpose of promoting other social platforms and content that contains links or usernames for the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Truth Social, Tribel, Nostr, and Post."
The account also specified that "We still allow cross-posting content from any social media platform. Posting links or usernames to social media platforms not listed above are also not in violation of this policy."
Notably, the site did not bar promotion of several right-leaning social media sites, including Gab, Parler, Gettr and Telegram. It seems likely that the inclusion of Truth Social on the list is to pressure Donald Trump to come back to Twitter, and maybe TikTok was left off in order to allow Libs Of TikTok to continue its very important work of encouraging lunatics to harass drag queens for reading story books to children.
Also barred were links to Linktree and other sites where users can post all of their websites and social media accounts.
After spending most of the day at the World Cup with Jared Kushner and a bunch of Saudis, Musk took to Twitter to defend the policy in the responses to a tweet from noted right-wing chud and resident of Malaysia Ian Miles Cheong. He explained that the policy was to prevent "relentless free advertising of competitors," claiming that "[n]o traditional publisher allows this and neither will Twitter."
Traditional publishers do, of course, allow this — that's what all the links are. Musk would know this if he read the kind of media in which claims are actually sourced instead of made up out of nowhere.
After receiving very little support for his terrible idea from even some of his biggest and most devoted fans, Musk eventually walked back the policy, limiting it to accounts that exist primarily to promote other social media sites.
Unlike many other social media sites, a majority of Twitter users are only there to lurk. They don't tweet much themselves, they simply follow topics and people they are interested in — frequently celebrities and the news media. The old guard at Twitter understood this and therefore specifically courted celebrities and the media and instituted policies to make the site more usable for them, thus cracking down (somewhat) on harassment and creating tools to allow people to filter out trolls from their mentions.
Musk's clear goal with Twitter, however, has been to take status, clout and reach away from celebrities and the media and bestow it upon the random right-wing trolls, crypto-shillers and conspiracy theorists who adore him (and are willing to pay him $8 a month). But he wants to do a straight trade. He wants everyone who's on Twitter to hear what celebrities are saying or just to follow the news to turn their attention to the new "elite" he has created, the assumption being that people will eat whatever's in front of them. If all the people they are actually on Twitter to follow move to a new platform, those people will follow them over there instead of sticking around to hear what Lavern Spicer has to say about how wonderful Elon Musk is, and he does not want that.
But that is what's going to happen, eventually. And it can't happen soon enough.
Following urging from video game developer and former congressional candidate Brianna Wu and others, Musk put up a poll on Sunday night asking Twitter users if they wanted him to step down as leader of Twitter and put someone else in charge (a move Tesla stockholders would surely appreciate), promising to abide by whatever the results are.
While it seems unlikely that he will pick anyone less horrid than he is to run the site, Twitter users overwhelmingly voted 57 to 42 that he get the hell out.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse